weather hangover

It is totally rain snowing outside and I am all alone in my parents house flailing around trying to stay warm.  Thank goodness I figured out how to work the ancient thermostat but now I am assured my parents will not be happy when the gas bill comes in next month :p  Sorry you turned your kid into a Floridian the day you let me go away to college.

misery

I do love coming up here and appreciating the cute quaintness that is New England but I have to say, Florida weather is just so appreciated and GLORIOUS.  I have turned into SUCH a baby and I lose all coping mechanisms when the weather hits below 50 degrees.  After a weekend at the in-laws and snuggling my CUTEST nieces and nephews, I am now stuck in Connecticut for 2 weeks (husband is in Philly for business) and will have to be dragged kicking and screaming out of the house if anyone wants me to go anywhere.  We already had this scenario multiple times in Rhode Island this weekend.

I know all of you are probably so over Thanksgiving now, but I will never be, as upon arriving back at my parents I resumed eating leftovers for every meal.  They are so incredible and there is NO WAY they are going to waste, damn the FDA and their guidelines.  I will not be satisfied until the last crumb is eaten! (You may want to pray for my digestive system for the rest of this week)  Is anybody with me on this?

I H-A-V-E to share the new sweet potato recipe I tried this year and I am not sorry about it at all.  I know a lot of people don’t like the whole dessert type sweet potato dish bit, but HELLO, sweet is IN THE NAME.  I am completely on board with it forever and if you are too, TRY THIS!  The browned butter gives it subtle caramel note and the topping is just divine.  You will feel like Paula Deen both making and consuming this so you may need to save it for the holidays.  Usually we bake the cut up yams from a can in the oven with some OJ, maple syrup, brown sugar and marshmallows on top but I have to thank Jessica from How Sweet It Is for taking our holiday dinner to a new level.

gooey goodness

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Halloween leftovers

I did something very profound today.

I made cookies without making a mess AT ALL.  My man accomplished the great feat of deep cleaning our kitchen last night (and that is a GREAT feat considering I’m the cook and create a disaster zone 3-4 times a week).  I knew if he came home to a mess he’d want to kick my butt all the way to the north pole.  It took me double the time to make cookies but I was successful…. layering the counter tops with towels helped.  Why haven’t I thought of that before?

I didn’t want to finish off all of the Halloween candy I accumulated from November 1st sales, so I did something very smart and chopped them up and put them into cookies that I will probably eat twice as fast.  All I need to do is have willpower for ONE DAY until my parents and brother come into town because after that the treats will be gone.  The way I show my love is through food and both my husband and my family understand and joyously accept this 100%.

All I had left in my stockpile were mini 3 Musketeers, mini dark chocolate Milky Ways, and fun sized Twix (my favorite!).  It turned out to be a great combination.  No special recipe to be found here, just chop ’em up as small or chunky as you’d like, and throw them into your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe in lieu of the chips.  I use this one as a base- clearly it is the best because it calls for 2 sticks of butter (I tried the oreo part once and it is terribly sinful. By terribly I mean exquisitely).

The BEST part is when the caramel oozes out and adds a touch of crispiness to the soft and gooey cookie

While we are on the topic of fattening things, I wanted to share just how excited I am to be running again.  I’ve hit PR’s every time I set out to run (which doesn’t say a LOT since I am essentially starting from scratch again, but it is still very motivating)!  My most recent is 4.17 miles in 40 minutes which not only is the longest I have run continuously, but also the fastest steady pace.  I’ve shaved 1 minute off my pace in just two weeks.  I’m getting suspicious sciatic pain in my left glute muscle (and still have knee pain) but I am stretching and icing and praying that my muscles and joints stay healthy.  I have my sights set on a half marathon for early next year (definitely a big deal for me).

Anyone joining me on being a fairly new runner?  Are you following a specific plan?  I have been running on and off for a year now between “injuries” but I am trying to stay on track, be more responsible and actually increase mileage now to achieve a half marathon finish.  I might start tracking my mileage on here, but I’m not sure yet.  I’m doing timed runs on Tuesdays, interval runs on Thursdays, and distance runs on Saturdays.

Are you still trying to get rid of Halloween candy?  Did you get any in the first place?

This One’s for you, Bethany.

So I have something else to say about my inspirational friend Bethany- as I have mentioned before, I have ventured into a more thrifty lifestyle because of her (among so many other things she’s inspired me to do), resulting in me desperately wanting to try spicing up my life with some saffron but not being able to bring myself to spend the $14 + on a bottle that would only last me a few creations.

One day she came over to work at home with me and brought me these.

She knew how much I talked about freaking saffron and thought of me when she bought it and graciously donated some to my spice arsenal. Then the other day, my husband, with the most genuinely fearful eyes, approached me and said..

“Baby, be honest with me, are you trying to poison me? I found these while making eggs this morning”

He saw the saffron in the cabinet and had no earthly clue what it could have been and immediately resorted to the worst thing he could come up with. Thanks for thinking I am capable of such a thing, oh husband of mine.

I then had to prove to him I’m not trying to murder him by cooking a dish he and I would both eat.  I am SO GLAD I tried this autumnal recipe and stopped being scared of savory pumpkin dishes. This is everything you want this fall – mellow, comforting, and smooth as anything. If you have never made a savory pumpkin dish, THIS IS THE ONE.  This is one of the first times I didn’t modify a recipe AT ALL, but how I wish I could take credit for such a thing.  I got it from this website- the one recipe with pumpkin and risotto that didn’t require wine because I didn’t have any in the house.  You could totally use wine in place of water, though the saffron is so subtle, it may be overpowered.  Another point is that it is glaringly obvious this isn’t the most nutrient dense of dishes, so I will be eating it as a side with grilled chicken breast this week.  The nutrition facts below, however, are for about 1.5 cups of the risotto which would be considered a serving size as a main dish.

Here are all of the essential ingredients you’ll need, see?  Easy.

Pumpkin Saffron Risotto

Serves about 6 as a main dish

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red onion red onion, diced
  • 1/2 of a 15 oz  can of pumpkin purée
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary (I used a teaspoon of dried rosemary)
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (have extra handy)
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (I completely forgot this and it was still perfect)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick dutch oven or sauce pan (non-stick will save you lots of cleaning time, especially with a sticky dish like risotto) over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is wilted and transparent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the pumpkin and season with salt and pepper.  Stir until just warmed.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the water with the vegetable broth and saffron in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan;  cook over medium heat about 10 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
  4. Add the rice to the pumpkin mixture and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes.  Add one-third of the vegetable broth mixture, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until rice absorbs the broth.
  5. Now add 1/2  cup of water, and cook, stirring, until it is absorbed.
  6. Continue to add broth and water alternatively, cooking and stirring, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid between each addition.
  7. When the rice becomes creamy, add the broth and water more sparingly, or the rice will become mushy.
  8. Cook until rice is creamy but still al dente, (about 25 to 30 minutes total).  Stir in the butter and about 1/2-1 cup of Parmesan cheese

Damage: 322 calories/52g carbs/9g fat/8g protein/3g fiber/3g sugar

Let’s catch up

Happy holiday season HALLOWEEN CANDY SALES!  I did not have one piece of candy corn this year until yesterday when I picked up a bag for one dollar.  It was then I learned that I CANNOT stop eating them once I lay my eyes on the bag.  I also picked up my other Halloween favorites after being a jerk and refusing to buy candy at a 10000% profit margin to give out FOR FREE to kids I have never met before in my life.

I picked up the bags of fun size candy at Publix for $3 each and they will last in my freezer for months.  I am more excited than I should be.

I am so glad that I get to have TWO Thanksgiving dinners this year.  Last night, our Bible study group put on a Thanksgiving dinner potluck and I almost exploded my stomach.  Everyone was taking pictures of their heavy plates and I, the person with an actual blog, did not take a picture.  Let’s just say I probably carb-loaded enough to run two marathons today.  I will offer you my contribution to the meal and a delicious suggestion for a Thanksgiving side dish.  It’s very tasty and turns healthy fresh vegetables into vehicles for bacon.

Italian Green Beans with Bacon

Serves about 10 people

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of fresh green beans, rinsed with ends cut
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2-1 cup of seasoned breadcrumbs (you can also add Italian seasoning & parmesan cheese to plain breadcrumbs)
  • 6 pieces bacon, fried and chopped as thick or fine as your preference
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & fresh cracked pepper

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a 12 inch skillet on medium-low and stir in garlic until fragrant, about 3 minutes (make sure the pan is NOT sizzling hot, or else the garlic will burn)
  2. Add beans and mix with breadcrumbs, mixing until beans are coated with breadcrumbs and oil
  3. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes on medium, until the beans are softened but still crisp
  4. Mix in bacon, season with salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese to taste

Damage: 128 calories/13g carbs/6g fat/5g protein/2g fiber/2g sugar

Do you guys like your candy frozen, refrigerated or at room temperature?  Halloween/fun size favorites?

My husband wants them refrigerated while I really just prefer to break my teeth on frozen snickers- they are so good to me.

Do you actually try to eat healthy during the holiday season?

This could be my first attempt (but I’ll also be running a lot more so I probably will end up eating way more sugar than I should), but I’ll NEVER restrict my eating for the actual holiday dinner.  That was never meant to be for anyone.